Score: 3 / 5
HASR TOP EZMIX PACKS – GUITAR
- Metal Guitar Gods I
- Country Guitars
- Metal Amps
- Classic Amps
- Blues Guitars
- Modern metal
The folks at Toontrack have a plugin called Ezmix that runs expansions for a variety of purposes. Mixing, mastering,guitar, bass, vocals and really everything needed to create a really quick mix from start to finish. Included in the massive library of expansions is a nice selection of guitar and bass sim presets that range across every imaginable genre.
I am going to just lay it out there. If your goal is a professional quality mix, Ezmix is not going to be your go-to but if you are looking for a really small simple demo set up Toontrack can give you that and then some. Ezmix +Ezdrummer+ Ezkeys can be an extremely handy set of tools for beginners, travel recording setups and even kids that have gotten bored of stuff like Garage band.
The idea here is that each preset for guitar and bass is a complete chain of gear from the pedals to the cabinet and some post effects. The problem is that the chains aren’t overly editable so it can be tougher to find the exact tone you’re looking for.
I have a demo rig myself. It’s an old crappy laptop that doesn’t have a lot under the hood but it runs Reaper, Ezmix, Ezdrummer and Ezkeys with no sweat. Add in the onboard reaper plugins and you have an easy and useful demo set up that you could simply pop open and lay down a whole song in an hour. The practicality is fantastic and in less than an hour, I can have a quick demo that sounds good to have for my own practicing, sending to collaborating musicians, use as content and more. All of this can be done easily and quickly with very minimal plugins needed.
The tones you get with the guitar related Ezmix expansions compete with some notable amp sims but the lack of flexibility is a big weakness when comparing products. Having said that, users also won’t have to do a lot of tweaking to get the basic tone they’re after. No matter what genre, style, purpose or idea; Ezmix guitar expansions will have something close in there somewhere that will work as intended.
Ezmix has two knobs and basically two ways you can alter or enhance the various presets. It might be reverb, maybe compression, possibly delay, you really never know but the tones are generally pretty fixed in place. Whatever pack it is, whatever genre, whatever the aim was, the tones provided give you quick and simple ways to call something up quick to lay down your basic ideas. It would be nice to see this as at least three controls because two controls for that many components really is a little rigid even for an easy solution.
I really like using the EZ line of products for starting points while tracking. Load EZmix up for literally any track, do all your tracking and then you can replace things where needed. I also like using it for scratch tracks while tracking drums and other things.
UPS / DOWNS:
Toontrack employ some of the most talented, innovative and forward thinking people in the industry. They also have a ton of success behind them so that being said, it sure would be wonderful to have them release a higher quality guitar suite plugin to go with Superior Drummer 3 for their users and customers that gravitate towards more advanced products.
Imagine a guitar suite with the workflow and incredible detail of superior drummer 3. Now that is something that I could get very excited about and I don’t think I am alone on that island either. They could have their Ez line of products and then a multi-amp suite to go with the quality of Superior Drummer 3. I would love to see that because I know it would rock.
The downsides to the 1-2 click fix plugins are that they are pretty fixed tone wise, limited in range and if they contain an internal signal chain, they can be weird to process. Ideally you won’t be processing these plugins too often if you are only using them for demos so that may not be a factor for you. Even if it’s only for a demo, you can throw a saturator after EZmix in the chain to warm up the tones a little as well as cleaning up the signal on the way in with a de-esser and some pre-EQ.
The EZ line products from Toontrack were however never designed to compete with top of the line plugins, they are released and designed for beginners, quick demos and to make recording “EZ”. Are these useful for you? I can’t say because everyone is different. I have access to many plugins and I will still reach for this plugin to cover the odd clean part or solo so if that speaks to it’s quality for you, so be it.
The price is also a bit of a deterrent for me. When you factor in the cost of EZmix and each of the guitar expansions, the bill would be much higher than something like Line 6 Helix Native. If you think about it, Ezmix + all guitar expansions would set up like a multi-amp suite. If I had to choose between Line 6 Helix native and EZmix + expansions, I am choosing the Helix all day. Even on sale, the Ezmix setup would likely be more expensive than Helix and Helix is much higher quality plus it allows you to customize and edit your tones where Ezmix only allows a small bit of editing.
Don’t expect a pro quality product or something that will compete with standalone amp sims and you won’t be disappointed. Toontrack like many other companies constantly have mind-blowing sales on something in their product line so I would say join their mailing list asap and watch for the sale emails.